Polish LGBTQ Advocates Use Taylor Swift’s Hit To Push Back Against Bigotry

Taylor Swift’s anthemic plea for LGBTQ equality has gone global. 

In June, Swift marked Pride Month by dropping “You Need To Calm Down,” the second single from her forthcoming album, “Lover.” The track served as the pop superstar’s denouncement of homophobia, while its accompanying video served as a who’s who of queer Hollywood with appearances by Billy Porter, Ellen DeGeneres and Adam Rippon, among others.  

A gay Polish couple, Jakub Kwieciński and David Mycek, liked the idea so much, they’ve repurposed “You Need To Calm Down” in hopes of pushing back against a reported rise in homophobia and transphobia in their home country.

The new version, viewed below, maintains the colorful ensemble feel of Swift’s original. This time, however, the cast is made up of local advocates, politicians and media personalities, all of whom hope to send a message of inclusion to Poland’s LGBTQ community through their participation. 

Patryk Rabiej, who is the Deputy President of Warsaw, European Parliament member Robert Biedron, “Mr. Gay Poland” Lukasz Sabat and drag queen Kim Lee are among those to lend their lip-syncing talents to the clip, which had been viewed more than 125,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.   

If Kwieciński and Mycek look familiar, that’s because they shot to viral fame in 2016 when they opened up about their sexualities (and relationship) publicly in a YouTube video of themselves lip-syncing to Roxette’s “Some Other Summer.”

Since then, they’ve released queer-inclusive video tributes to Mariah Carey and George Michael, each with the aim of further dialogue about LGBTQ issues in Poland.

Kwieciński and Mycek, who married in 2017 while on a trip abroad, told HuffPost they hadn’t planned on producing another video. Once they viewed “You Need To Calm Down,” in which Swift asks U.S. fans to support a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill known as the Equality Act, they changed their mind. 

“It is really amazing tribute to the LGBTQ community,” Kwieciński said of the original video. “We wish [Swift] was Polish because with her open heart and power, she might change a lot here. Polish artists don’t support our community too much. They don’t want to lose conservative fans and don’t want to upset the government, which is in charge of our national television.” 

LGBTQ people have limited rights in Poland, while same-sex marriage in the predominately Catholic country remains illegal. A number of officials in the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party have reportedly equated same-sex relationships to pedophilia. 

European Parliament member Robert Biedron (right) and his partner, Krzysztof Smiszek, are among those to appear in the n

European Parliament member Robert Biedron (right) and his partner, Krzysztof Smiszek, are among those to appear in the new version of “You Need To Calm Down” featuring Polish LGBTQ advocates. 

Gazeta Polska, a conservative publication, began distributing “LGBT-free zone” stickers last month. Local activists say the stickers, which feature a black “X” through a rainbow flag, are indicative of a mounting backlash against the LGBTQ community ahead of Poland’s parliamentary election later this year. 

Hence, Kwieciński is hopeful his version of “You Need To Calm Down” will prove that “you can really change the world” through music. 

“Poland is one of the most homophobic countries in Europe, so people usually are afraid to express themselves,” he said. “We need to let people know us — show them that we are their doctors, neighbors, hairdressers and so on.”

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